Notes from Treat it Gentle by Sidney Bechet

Reading Note Convention

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KOReader/Exported Kindle Meaning
Lighten/Normal Yellow Quotables, concepts, and general ideas.
Underline Orange Further thought is required on this for clarity.
Highlighted/Bold Blue Something strikingly novel/Deeply moving/Highly thought-provoking.
Strikeout Pink In discord with this opinion.

Treat it Gentle

Sidney Bechet

Treat it Gentle

Time: 2021-08-24 02:07

"This music is your music," he said. But, you know, no music is my music. It's everybody's who can feel it. You're here… well, if there's music, you feel it—then it's yours too. You got to be in the sun to feel the sun. It's that way with music too.

Time: 2021-08-24 02:10

There's two kinds of music. There's classic and there's ragtime. When I tell you ragtime, you can feel it, there's a spirit right in the word. It comes out of the Negro spirituals, out of Omar's way of singing, out of his rhythm. But Jazz — Jazz could mean any damn thing: high times, screwing, ball-room. It used to be spelled Jass, which was screwing. But when you say ragtime, you're saying the music.

Time: 2021-08-24 02:13

But if you have a feeling for the music, you can understand him, and that's why he keeps it so important to himself. And he's always been trying. The black man, he's been learning his way from the beginning. A way of saying something from inside himself, as far back as time, as far back as Africa, in the jungle, and the way the drums talked across the jungle, the way they filled the whole air with a sound like the blood beat- ing inside himself.

Time: 2021-08-24 02:17

I can remember when I was young. I didn't have toys like others. I never had a toy to play with. I wouldn't have known what to do with a toy if you gave me one. I started once to write a song for a boy like that. The song, it was called Sans Amis. He had nothing to play with and no one to play with.But he had a song. He kept making that song over and over out of himself, changing it around, making it fit. That boy, he had this song about being lonely, and as soon as he had the song, he wasn't lonely any more. He was lucky. He was real well off; he had this thing he could trust, and so he could trust himself.

Time: 2021-08-25 03:04

You take when a high note comes through—lifting and going and then stopping because there's no place else for it to go. That's stepping music—it's got to rush itself right off your voice or your horn because it's so excited. You can feel it. People, they go looking for music, you know, needing it. And the music—it's any damn' thing; it's whatever it is you need.

Time: 2021-08-25 03:08

Maybe that's not easy to understand. White people, they don't have the memory that needs to understand it. But that's what the music is… a lost thing finding itself. It's like a man with no place of his own. He wanders the world and he's a stranger wherever he is; he's a stranger right in the place where he was born. But then something happens to him and he finds a place, his place. He stands in front of it and he crosses the door, going inside. That's where the music was that day—it was taking him through the door; he was coming home.

Time: 2021-08-26 02:36

And then there was those swamps I used to go into after black fish. We called them Shoe Picks. We used to believe if you caught them and kept them in moss, put moss all over them, they'd turn into snakes… all those crazy things a kid takes into his head. But all that was nothing but the kind of fooling around a kid will do, the kind of thing a kid has to do. It's a kind of memory-making thing every kid has in his own way and puts away inside him, and years later it calls a man far back into himself, every man his own way. It's nothing important in itself, but it's there and it makes itself important… it's the first things you found out about and somehow those things, they stay on at the bottom of everything else.

Time: 2021-08-27 17:06

And it was while I was in jail there that I played the first blues I ever played with a lot of guys singing and no other instruments, just the singing. And, oh my God, what singing that was! It was my first experience that way, hearing some-one right next to me start up singing … Got a life full of so much punishment, Got me a feeling. Come down Jesus. Oh, why don't they put God on this earth where you can find Him easier. Hearing someone else come in after a minute, just hearing his voice in the dark and knowing right away his life has a long way to go. Seeing someone hungry and beat-up, seeing his face all bloody and knowing he can't speak your language to tell you what it is, knowing that the only way he has to explain himself is being human, suffering and waiting….

Time: 2021-08-27 22:53

I got a feeling inside me, a kind of memory that wants to sing itself… I can give you that. I can send it out to where it can be taken, maybe, if you want it. I can try to give it to you. But if all I've got is a contract, I've got nothing to give. How'm I going to give you a contract?

And maybe there's another thing why so many of these musicianers ended up so bad. Maybe they didn't know how to keep up with all this commercializing that was happening to ragtime. If it could have stayed where it started and not had to take account of the business it was becoming—all that making contracts and signing options and buying and selling rights — maybe without that it might have been different. If you start taking what's pure in a man and you start putting it on a bill of sale, somehow you can't help destroying it. In a way, all that business makes it so a man don't have anything left to give.